Disney’s Pleasure Island is officially dead and shall be missed. Hyperion Wharf, now under development, will take its place as a new restaurant-shopping venue snuggled between two other restaurant-shopping venues, Disney’s West Side and the Marketplace. The three venues – collectively called Downtown Disney – create a wondrous tribute to gluttony and greed, but in a good way.
Still, the defunct Pleasure Island – the name came from Pinocchio’s island where young juvenile delinquents discover that their evil ways turned them into jackasses – at least acknowledged its slightly seamy side. Pleasure Island was a Magic Kingdom for drinkers, a magnet for singles, and one of three major party places in Orlando. It locked out underage drinkers at first, and what happened at Pleasure Island stayed at Pleasure Island. It generated a lot of money for Disney and a lot of headaches. In the end, executives must have decided that Pleasure Island’s problems outweighed its attributes.
After mourning the dead, it’s time to praise the living. According to early Disney info, Hyperion Wharf will be a “nostalgic yet modern take on an early 20th century port city and amusement pier … By day, the bustling port district will draw guests in with its stylish boutiques and innovative restaurants, and by night, thousands of lights will transform the area into an electric wonderland … Taking its name from Hyperion, the Greek god of light, as well as the street on which Walt Disney built his first major animation studio, the wharf district also will feature a relaxing lakeside park and enhanced pedestrian walkways.”
Yeah, I’m not sure what that means either, but that’s the way early press releases usually sound when companies want to keep plans sketchy.
However, it’s safe to assume Hyperion Wharf will be attractive. Downtown Disney works similarly to local malls: Disney owns the buildings, but private businesses lease space and oversee day-to-day operation of most restaurants and many of the stores. And since merchandise purchased on vacation tends to be cooler than the stuff stocked at your local shopping center, most age groups enjoy the things they see during at least one Downtown Disney trip.